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Mississippi Freedom Summer (1964)
Activists from SNCC, CORE and the NAACP targeted Greenwood, Mississippi, for a voter
registration campaign. Mississippi was targeted because it had the lowest black voter
registration of any state.
In 1962, only 6.2% of adult black citizens were registered voters due to state laws that
required potential voters to take literacy tests.
Approx. 800 volunteers from the North, many of whom were white, participated in the
campaign. Activists attempted to increase voter registration by escorting African Americans
to registration offices.
Additionally campaigners from SNCC and CORE established 20 Freedom Schools across
Mississippi. These were designed to educate black citizens about Civil Right issues and black
history more generally, in order to encourage them to register to vote.
The Local KKK and State Police put up tremendous resistance to the voter registration
campaign. Homes of 30 black people and 37 black churches were firebombed. Additionally
there were 80 beatings, 35 shootings and 1000+ arrests.
Approx. 17,000 AA's tried to register to vote in Mississippi. Only 1600 succeeded in
AA's were also turned away from polling station during the Democratic Primary for the
Presidential Election of 1964.
As a result, activists set up the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), which held
its own Primary.
Significance of the Mississippi Freedom Summer
The controversy over the Mississippi Freedom Summer and the MFDP was
significant because it signalled a breakdown in the relationship between Civil Rights
campaigners and President Johnson.
Additionally, many Civil Rights activists saw this as proof that the American political
system was fundamentally racist and that it was therefore necessary to use more
militant methods and to stop compromising with white politicians.